- Tuesday, 20 August 2013 02:00
- Author: Ed Thomas
After a record-setting 2012, the Georgia offense returns intact with most of its key players and, especially, with continuity and depth on the offensive line. With the questions facing the defense, the Georgia offense will be expected to put up yards and points by the bunches to keep the pressure on opponents. This group of players at the skilled positions may be the best offense in the country and could shatter every single-season offensive record by year’s end. Even with all of the returning talent, these questions linger as the Dawgs enter preparations for Clemson:
1) How successful will Richt and Bobo be at integrating Hutson Mason for meaningful snaps during the season?
I’ll admit I’m extremely nervous about the plans to give Mason meaningful snaps during this year while games are in doubt. It’s possible to make the case that this rotation potentially cost us a national title shot in 2002 with D.J. Shockley’s pick-6 in Jacksonville in 2002. While Mason isn’t a redshirt freshman, he hasn’t played in a game where the outcome was still in doubt. I support the decision to give Mason the chance to get snaps to be ready to be the starter in ’14, but I don’t want the decision to give him a couple of series to interrupt our offensive rhythm especially in a big game. I’ll admit I’m not sure I want to see #14 in the game either at Clemson or Athens the first two weeks of the season unless the game is well in hand.
2) Will the Dawgs have two 1,000 yard running backs in a season for the first time in program history?
The southern version of Tailback U has never had two 1,000 yard rushers in a season. The North Carolina Dynamic Duo of Todd Gurley & Keith Marshall have an outside chance to hit this milestone. If Gurley has the year expected and the team excels, he may be in New York for the Heisman ceremony. Marshall will look to build on an excellent freshman season where he proved to be a gamebreaker. Both backs will be featured heavily in the offense as a rusher and pass receiver. I don’t think they will both get to the 1,000 yard watermark but will continue to average 6+ yards per carry. Finally, I really hope we’ll see the return of the screen game that has been missing the last few years.
3) How effective will the offensive line be early given some of the shuffling that occurred in the spring and early fall?
This offensive line has the potential to be very good if they come together and keep up the good work from late 2012. David Andrews was the wild card entering 2012 and excelled as the anchor of the offensive line. He is now the undisputed leader up front. Chris Burnette could become the next great offensive guard, and Dallas Lee is consistently underrated. Kenarious Gates seems to have slimmed down and nailed down the all-important left tackle position protecting Aaron Murray’s blind side against SEC pass rushing specialists like Super Freak, Jadeveon Clowney. The right tackle seems to be the position currently in flux as Kolton Houston seems to be pushing last year’s starter, John Theus. The Bulldog Nation will really be excited to see Houston’s first appearance in a regular season game. The bottom line is that this season is the first where we could be very deep and very good up front.
4) Are there enough balls to go around for a deep, talented group of receivers and tight ends?
Heisman candidate and undisputed team leader Aaron Murray has to be excited about the potential of this year’s passing game after leading the country in yards per attempt by a wide margin last year. The only question is who will replace Tavarres King as the deep threat. Right now, Malcolm Mitchell is the natural answer as the big-play receiver, but he needs to stay healthy to assume that role. Michael Bennett, Justin Scott-Wesley, and Chris Conley will be consistent match-up problems for opposing secondaries. The real wild card is what impact JUCO transfer, Jonathon Rumph, will make as a big, athletic receiver. The Boston Bruiser (Artie Lynch) and Jay Rome are receiving threats in the middle of the field against cover 2 defense.
5) How will Bobo balance his up-tempo style with the perceived need to protect a young defense?
The Georgia offense has raised its performance since going back to the no-huddle over the last 2 years. The offensive coaching staff will have to determine how fast is fast enough to balance the ability to keep favorable personnel match-ups on the field with the need to slow down to give the defense time off the field. I think Richt has given Bobo and Murray the green light to go as fast as needed. He has probably told the defense that they can get off the field by making stops especially on third down. I don’t think we’re going to see Oregon or Texas A&M fast, but we will see the continued use of the no-huddle as circumstances dictate.
The offense will literally run a number of teams off the field this fall with its skill and power across the board. The big question is how much can they move the ball consistently against the three big-time defenses they will see this season in South Carolina, LSU, and Florida. I really do believe that we have something special in store for Clowney like a crackback on the first play of the game. LSU continues to reload on defense, but I think that we have finally developed quality up front to fight off the Tigers. Finally, I think we have developed a physical edge on the Gator defense as we know we can compete with them head to head. I’m excited to see what this offense will do a week from Saturday night in Death Valley and believe this is the first step toward something special in 2013.